and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution
Protect Persons, Not Groups
nThe Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution protect persons, not groups.
nIt follows from that principle that all governmental
action based on race - a group
classification long recognized as "in most circumstances irrelevant and therefore
prohibited," should be
subjected to detailed judicial inquiry to ensure that the personal right to equal protection of the laws has
not been infringed.
nThese ideas have long been central to this Court's understanding of equal protection, and holding
"benign" state and
federal racial classifications to different standards does not square with them.